It is the 85th anniversary of the death of Horacio Quiroga (Uruguay 1878-Argentina 1937), a writer whose figure evokes a relentless course of fatalities that impregnated a vivid and overwhelming work, in which he stood out as a worshiper of the short text, based on stories that today are a classic, like his “Tales of the jungle” or “Tales of love, madness and death”.
Horacio Silvestre Quiroga Forteza was born on December 31, 1878 in Salto, Uruguay. His childhood was marked by the death of his father, who accidentally shot himself when he was getting off a boat, in the presence of his wife and Horacio himself. In 1891, his mother married Ascencio Barcos, who was a good stepfather for the child, but tragedy struck again: Ascencio suffered a stroke that prevented him from speaking; injury that led him to take his own life with a gunshot.
Considered as “the South American Edgar Allan Poe”, he had literature as an ally to overcome. Inspired by a young woman with whom he had fallen in love, he wrote “A Season of Love” (1898). He later traveled to Europe, where he met many figures of culture such as the poet Rubén Darío. This experience was recorded in his “Diary of a trip to Paris” (1900). And it was at the beginning of the new century when he settled in Buenos Aires, to continue with an unstoppable literary career: he published “The coral reefs” (1901), poems, stories and lyrical prose of a modernist nature; the stories of “The Crime of the Other” (1904), the short novel “The Persecuted” (1905), inspired by a trip with Leopoldo Lugones through the Misiones jungle, and another longer one: “Historia de un amor turbio” (1908 ). A year after this novel, he arrived in Misiones, where he served as justice of the peace in San Ignacio, while growing yerba mate and oranges.
Back in Buenos Aires, he worked at the Uruguayan consulate and published, perhaps, the most famous of his works, “Cuentos de amor, de madía y de muerte” (1917), which was followed by “Cuentos de la selva” ( 1918) and “El Salvaje” (1920), the play “Las sacrificedas” (1920) and the renowned “Decalogue of the perfect short story writer” (1927), where he gathered advice and guidelines for young writers on the short story genre, at the same time who collaborated in newspapers and magazines, such as Caras y Caretas, Fray Mocho, La Novela Semanal and La Nación.
His famous decalogue perfectly summed up his own style: a precise, stylized, and forceful prose that made him a master of the short story and left for posterity some of the most terrible, brilliant, and transcendental pieces of 20th-century Latin American literature.
He also published the novel “Pasado amor” and those who study his work assure that, from that moment on, he felt a certain rejection by the new literary generations and returned to Misiones to dedicate himself to floriculture. It was in 1935 when he published his last book of short stories, “Beyond.”
His work was marked by the recognized influence of Kipling, Conrad and, above all, Poe. In his stories reigns an atmosphere of hallucination, crime and madness set in the wild nature of the jungle. In Buenos Aires he was diagnosed with gastric cancer that would have driven him to suicide: Horacio Quiroga took his own life with cyanide on February 19, 1937.